Captiol Insider

Major Events Ahead

Education – House to Vote on Elementary and Secondary Education Act
Reauthorization Bill Later This Week

The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Student Success Act
(H.R. 5) by the end of the week.  This bill to reauthorize the Elementary and
Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was passed by the Education and Workforce
Committee on Feb. 11 and contains a number of troubling provisions for students
with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.  These include reducing
accountability for the achievement and learning gains of subgroups of
disadvantaged students (including students with disabilities); eliminating goals and
performance targets for academ ic achievement; and reducing resources.   Read
the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) recommendations letter at
http://c-c-d.org/fichiers/CCD-on-HR-5.pdf.  Stay tuned for an action alert.

Social Security – House Ways & Means Committee, Social Security
Subcommittee to Hold Hearing on Maintaining the Disability Insurance
Trust Fund’s Solvency

On Wednesday, February 25th, the House Social Security Subcommittee will
hold a hearing on “Maintaining the Disability Insurance Trust Fund’s Solvency”.
Social Security Disability Insurance was created in 1956 to provide financial
assistance to people who are unable to work due to disability or health issues.
Current projections indicate that the fund will be unable to pay full benefits if
Congressional action is not taken by the end of 2016.  The hearing will focus on
the financial status of the fund and legislative options to address the issue.   Visit
the Committee website to le arn more and to view live video on the day of the

House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and
Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies to Hold Hearing on
Serving the Aging & Disabled Communities

On Thursday, February 26, the House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and
Human Services, Education and Related Agencies will hold a hearing entitled
“The Vital Responsibility of Serving the Nation’s Aging and Disabled Communities.”
Witnesses at the hearing will include:  Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of
the Social Security Administration and Kathy Greenlee, Administrator, the
Administration for Community Living in the Department of Health and Human
Services.  For more information, visit the Subcommittee website.

Major Recent Events

Education – Parent Empowerment and Transparency Bill Introduced in the

On February 12, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced S.528, the Empowering
Parents and Students Through Information Act.
  This bill would amend the
Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in order to improve the
requirements regarding alternate standards and assessments for students with
the most significant cognitive disabilities by ensuring that parents are provided
more information before their child is taken off track for a regular diploma.  The
Arc supports this legislation that clarifies the process for determining who takes
altern ate assessments, requires informed consent, and prohibits use of
individualized education programs (IEPs) for accountability.  See Senator
Casey’s press release for more information.

Education – Senate Bill Introduced to Limit the Number of Students Who
Take Alternate Assessments

On February 13, Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) introduced S. 516,  the Every
Child Counts Act.
  This bill promotes inclusion of students with disabilities in the
general education curriculum. The bill makes improvements to the alternative
assessment process and will allow up to 1% of all students (those with the most
severe cognitive disabilities) to take an alternate academic assessments.
Presently, federal regulations have a cap of 1% for the number of  proficient and
advanced scores on alternate assessments based on alternate achievement
standards (AA-AAS) that can be used to calculate annual y early progress (AYP)
under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (also known as No Child Left
Behind).  The Arc supports this legislation that seeks to limit the use of alternate
assessments on students with the most significant cognitive disabilities who
constitute less than 1% of all students.  See Senator Murphy’s press release for
more information.

Education – Restraint and Seclusion Bill Introduced in the House of

Representative Don Beyer (D-VA) introduced the Keeping All Students Safe Act
(H.R. 927)
on February 12.  This bill would establish minimum standards that:
prohibit elementary and secondary school personnel from using any physical,
mechanical, or chemical restraint that restricts breathing or aversive behavioral
intervention that compromise student health and safety; prohibit school personnel
from using physical restraint or seclusion, unless there is imminent danger of
physical injury to the student or others; require school personnel to receive crisis
intervention training and certification; prohibit physical restraint or seclusion from
being written into a student’s education plan, individual safety plan, behavioral plan,
or individual education program (IEP) as a planned intervention; and require
schools to establish procedures to notify parents in a timely manner if physical
restraint or seclusion is imposed on their child.

Family Support – Paid Sick Days Bill Introduced in the House

Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced H.R. 932, the Healthy Families
on February 12.  This measure would allow workers in businesses with 15 or
more employees to earn up to seven job-protected paid sick days each year to
be used to recover from their own illnesses, access preventive care, provide
care to a sick family member, or attend school meetings related to a child’s health
condition or disability.  Workers in businesses with fewer than 15 employees
would earn up to seven job-protected unpaid sick days.  Learn about the paid
sick days campaign at http://www.paidsickdays.org/
Health Care – The Department of Health and Human Services Creates
Special Enrollment Period

Last week, The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that
they would create a special enrollment period, from March 15 to April 30, for people
to comply with the law’s requirement that most individuals have health coverage.
The regular open enrollment period ended Feb. 15.  The fee for individuals who
didn’t have coverage in 2014 is the greater of 1 percent of the person’s annual
household income or $95 per person. Penalties increase every year: in 2015, it’s
the higher of 2 percent of annual household income or $325 per person.   For
more information about health care visit  https://www.healthcare.gov/

Employment – Training and Employment Guidance Letter

Last week, the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration
released a Training and Employment Guidance Letter which presents the vision
of the workforce system following implementation of the Workforce Innovation
and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Additionally, the letter outlines recommended steps
which workforce system leaders and partners are “strongly encouraged to take
now to move toward full implementation of the law” on July 1, 2015. The
Employment and Training Administration will issue Operating Instructions in spring
2015 to support implementation. Further, the letter indicated that two Notices of
Proposed Rulemaking will be issued early this year; it is anticipated that Final
Regulations will be issued in early 2016. Other key dates, such as the July 22
, 2016 deadline for provisions related to subminimum wage for people with I/DD,
can be found here


Tax Law and Future Planning – Webinar available on the ABLE Act

The Arc’s Center for Future Planning recently hosted a webinar (What’s Next: The
ABLE Act and Tax Tips) that focused on the Achieving a Better Life Experience
(ABLE) Act. The recently enacted ABLE Act creates a new option for some people
with disabilities to save for the future, while protecting eligibility for public benefits.
The second half of this webinar offers more information about ABLE accounts by
addressing frequently-asked questions relating to requirements, eligibility,
qualifying expenses and more.  During the first half of this webinar, Bernard Krooks,
an experienced attorney, provides useful tips to help families prepare for the
upcoming tax season.  The recording of this webinar is now available on the Center
for Future Planning website:

Home and Community Based Services – New Resource Available “Questions
and Answers About the Home and Community Based Services (HCBS)
Settings Rules”

The Arc is pleased to share a new Q&A document designed to be a resource to
assist advocates understand the impact of the Home and Community Based Services
(HCBS) Settings Rule as the March 17, 2015 deadline for states to submit a transit
ion plan to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approaches. The
provides answers to frequently asked questions about the Rule as well as
links to primary source documents and additional information members of The Arc
may find helpful as they advocate for the full inclusion and community participation
of people with I/DD throughout their lifetimes.

Civil Rights – Americans with Disabilities Act

The Department of Justice will honor the ADA’s 25th Anniversary this year through
the Justice Blog which will highlight different ways that the ADA benefits people with
disabilities.  To read the current and past postings of the Justice Blog, click here.

Disability Policy Seminar – Get Involved and Get the Facts

The Disability Policy Seminar is taking place April 13th- 15th, in Washington, D.C.,
at a new location – Renaissance Washington, D.C. Downtown Hotel. Come and be a
part of the solution by registering today! Early bird registration and discounted pricing
ends March 13th. With so many powerful advocates in Congress moving on, it is time
for the next generation to step up and make a stand. B udget cuts are already
threatening to severely limit, or in some instances, completely cut disability benefits
through Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security Disability Insurance. Disability policy
is at a crucial turning point. In order to show Congress how important our programs
are, we must band together and put a face on disability issues.

Hosted by: The Arc, United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), Association of University Centers
on Disabilities (AUCD), American Association on Intellectual and Developmental
Disabilities (AAIDD), National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities
(NACDD), and Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE)

Promotional Support Provided by: Sibling Leadership Network as well as AAPD

Tony Paulauski
Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423
815-464-1832 (OFFICE)
815-464-1832 (CELL)